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Local health officials receive results from a fraction of nearly 5,600 COVID-19 surge tests

Nearly 5,700 COVID-19 saliva tests have been administered in one Central Texas county, but...
Nearly 5,700 COVID-19 saliva tests have been administered in one Central Texas county, but after nearly two weeks of surge testing, local health officials have received results from just 2,000 of them. (File)(UW Health)
Published: Oct. 22, 2020 at 6:03 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Nearly 5,700 COVID-19 saliva tests have been administered McLennan County, but after nearly two weeks of federally funded surge testing, local health officials have received results from 2,000, just more than a third of the total.

“It’s a concern,” Waco Mayor Kyle Deaver said.

“We have heard that the patients themselves are getting the results back, but we as a health district are not getting them as quickly as we would like,” he said.

“We would like to get results back in a timely manner so that our team can get in contact with the people who might’ve come in contact with those who are positive.”

Dr. Tim Martindale, who practices family medicine in the Waco area, says some of his patients have had to wait days for their results.

“To me that is the biggest disadvantage to surge testing,” Martindale said.

“If it takes three to seven days to get the results back there is a lot of uncertainty,” he said.

“In that time, you are thinking about contacting people you may have been around.”

To prevent potential spread of the virus, doctors are telling patients who are waiting for their results to stay home.

“We are working with the testing agency to try and speed up this process so that we can get test results back quicker,” Deaver said.

Of the 2,000 tests for which health officials have received results, 137 were positive, and 41 of those involved residents who were asymptomatic.

“The more of those we can pick up the better we are at slowing the spread,” Deaver said.

Catching those asymptomatic carriers is a reason why doctors say everyone should get tested even if it takes a while to get results back.

“I think even with all the drawbacks the surge testing is a great resource to have,” Martindale said.

“To have a survey of people without symptoms getting tested is a great thing,” he said.

Surge testing is also underway on the Baylor University campus and more than 2,300 students registered for testing this week, the school’s president, Dr. Linda Livingstone, said in an email to students and staff.

Livingstone hopes to have another 2,500 students test next week.

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